All About Eco-Friendly Mattress Options
Learn how to choose an eco-friendly mattress.
Many people are becoming concerned with how products they buy affect the environment, and now even the bedroom is going green with eco-friendly mattress options. Sleeping on a healthy mattress made of natural products and sustainable practices provide benefits not only to the sleeper but also the environment. Anyone shopping for a new bed knows just how many products, brands and claims there are to sift through, so how do you really know if a bed is good for the environment or not? Here, we’ll examine what factors make a mattress eco-friendly and the top options for green mattresses.
Why Regular Beds Are Not Environmentally Friendly
Traditional mattresses are created using a wide range of chemicals and glues which are bad for both your health and the environment. Synthetic foam was created at a time when latex was requisitioned for war purposes. While synthetic foams are cheap and often more comfortable than an innerspring mattress, they use up natural non-renewable resources. In addition the chemicals used to create the foam are released into the environment via the air and water. The glues and chemicals in traditional mattresses leech contaminants into your home as well, and some have been linked with side effects ranging from respiratory discomfort and allergies to cancer and endocrine disruption.
Here are the top reasons traditional memory foam, synthetic latex, and innerspring mattresses are NOT environmentally friendly:
- Synthetic Fabrics
- Non-Recyclable, Non-Biodegradable
- Uses Non-Renewable Resources
- Manufacturing Pollutes Environment
- Chemicals Pollute Indoor Air Quality
- Long-Distance & Inefficient Shipping
What Makes an Eco-Friendly Mattress
While there is no specific definition of eco-friendly, most of use understand this to mean the product does not harm the environment or minimizes impact relative to an alternative product. When it comes to an eco-friendly mattress, you would want to look for the following traits:
- No VOCs
- Zero-Emissions Manufacturing
- Made of Renewable Resources
- Natural and Organic Materials
- Durable to Reduce Waste
- Efficient Shipping Methods
Currently, there are a few eco-friendly mattress options on the market: 100% natural latex, plant-based memory foam and improved innersprings. There are several differences between the types in terms of cost, longevity and price and we will examine these factors. The fabrics and other materials used in beds also have an impact, with naturally-derived textiles proving more desirable.
Natural Latex Mattresses
All-natural latex is derived the hevea brasiliensis tree, and minimally treated to produce the foam material used in latex mattresses. This type of bed continues to be a favorite among green aficionados as manufacturers utilize renewable harvesting processes and low-impact manufacturing. Ideally, the latex liquid can be harvested for 25 years or so while the tree continues growing and benefiting the atmosphere. All the while, subsequent generations are growing and old trees become eco-friendly wood products. As long as the material is made in with no toxic additives and fillers, natural latex is very healthy, VOC free, highly durable and biodegradable. Latex can be a little more expensive then other types of beds, but the tradeoff is that this material holds its shape and can last 20 or more years. In addition to being healthy, latex also proves comfortable, ranking second behind memory foam with satisfaction averages around 80%.
Our Recommendation: We found 100% natural latex mattresses from Astrabeds.com to offer good value and eco-friendliness. Starting at $1199, this collection uses only natural latex without fillers, toxic chemicals, glues or other additives. The mattresses also use certified organic cotton covers and natural wool, further reducing pollution. The company makes its beds in the US and ships them compressed which reduces fossil fuels expended during transportation.
Eco-Friendly Memory Foam Mattresses
Memory foam made from plant-based ingredients is our second choice for eco-friendly mattress options. While not made of 100% sustainable ingredients, plant-based memory foam qualifies as eco-friendly because it replaces a significant amount of oil-based products with sustainable plant-derived ingredients. For those who dislike the feel of latex or need a more affordable option, plant-based memory foam can be made without VOCs and with zero emissions to further reduce impact. These types of beds also last considerably longer than most mattresses, and their comfort advantages can encourage people on the fence about eco-friendly beds to make the switch.
Our Recommendation: For plant-based memory foam, we prefer Amerisleep’s collection of mattresses made with BioPur, starting at $649. Their beds are made in the US and utilize a zero-emissions manufacturing process and are free of harmful VOCs. The mattresses also have covers made with highly sustainable bamboo and ship compressed to reduce fuel use.
Eco-Friendly Innerspring Mattresses
Innerspring mattresses can be made more environmentally friendly by replacing the synthetic foams with latex or plant-based memory foam, and by replacing the fabrics and chemical fire barriers with natural materials. However, these beds are not biodegradable, cannot be compressed for shipping, and do not last as long as quality foam mattresses. Additionally, innerspring eco-friendly mattress options can be hard to find and somewhat expensive.
Our Recommendation: There are not many sellers of eco-friendly coil mattresses, but one brand that meets most of the guidelines is Savvy Rest. Their Earthspring mattress starts at $1149, featuring an innerspring system with natural latex and organic textiles. One possible downside is that these beds cannot be exchanged or returned and do not ship compressed.
Eco-Friendly Mattress Fabrics
A variety of mattress covers are also available in these products which are sustainable and healthier than synthetics. In addition to not releasing chemicals, they also prove to be more breathable than synthetic products such as polyester, and wick away moisture while you are sleeping.
- Cotton: Organic cotton is perhaps one of the best fabrics for mattresses as it is highly breathable, hypoallergenic, and sustainable. Standard cotton can contain a host of toxic pesticides, so opt for certified organic when possible.
- Bamboo: Bamboo is rapidly growing, highly renewable plant-resource that makes luxurious fabrics fabrics.
- Wool: Natural wool offers excellent heat and moisture wicking properties, and is also renewable since it comes from living sheep. Wool can also be used as a natural flame retardant in some mattresses.
When searching for an eco-friendly mattress, you want to look beyond the claims and see what’s actually in the bed. Make sure the materials, manufacturing and shipping process minimize negative consequences to the earth, while still providing comfort and value. Depending on where you live, local options may be limited, but there are retailers online that specialize in eco-friendly mattresses and often offer better deals than big name brands. Choosing an eco-friendly mattress for your bedroom will offer you peace of mind without compromising values or comfort.
November 26, 2013 by Sleep Junkie
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